News of the World (album)

News of the World (album)
News of the World
Studio album by Queen
Released 28 October 1977
Recorded July – September 1977, Basing Street and Wessex Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 39:30
Label EMI, Parlophone (UK), Elektra, Hollywood (USA)
Producer Queen, Mike Stone
Queen chronology
A Day at the Races
(1976)
News of the World
(1977)
Jazz
(1978)
Alternative cover
Korean cover
Singles from News of the World
  1. "We Are The Champions"/"We Will Rock You"
    Released: 7 October 1977
  2. "Spread Your Wings"
    Released: 10 February 1978
  3. "It's Late"
    Released: 1978 (US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan only)

News of the World is the sixth studio album by British rock group Queen, released in 1977. Containing hit songs "We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions" and "Spread Your Wings", the album went 4x platinum in the US, 2x platinum in the UK, and achieved high certifications around the world as well.

News of the World was the second album to be produced solely by the band (the first being A Day at the Races) and was recorded at Sarm West Studios and Wessex Studios, London and co-produced and engineered by Mike Stone.

Contents

Production

Having received some criticism that their first completely self-produced project, A Day at the Races, was a "boring" album,[1] Queen decided to shift their musical focus towards the mainstream but remain as the producers of the next album.

After completing the A Day at the Races Tour, the quartet re-entered the studio to begin work on their sixth studio offering in July 1977, enlisting Mike Stone as assistant producer at the Basing Street and Wessex Studios in London. They scaled down their complex arrangements and focused on a "rootsier" sound (as Brian May put it). However the staple of the Queen sound, multitracked harmonies and guitar orchestrations, still exist on this album, albeit a bit more subtly. News of the World shows Queen's songwriting less dominated by May and Freddie Mercury, with Roger Taylor and John Deacon composing two songs each. The group completed recording and production of the album two months later in September and released the album on 28 October 1977.

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "We Will Rock You"   Brian May 2:01
2. "We Are the Champions"   Freddie Mercury 2:59
3. "Sheer Heart Attack"   Roger Taylor 3:26
4. "All Dead, All Dead"   May 3:10
5. "Spread Your Wings"   John Deacon 4:34
6. "Fight from the Inside"   Taylor 3:03
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Get Down, Make Love"   Mercury 3:51
2. "Sleeping on the Sidewalk"   May 3:06
3. "Who Needs You"   Deacon 3:05
4. "It's Late"   May 6:26
5. "My Melancholy Blues"   Mercury 3:29
1991 Hollywood Records CD reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
1. "We Will Rock You (1991 Bonus Remix)"   5:00
2011 Bonus EP
No. Title Length
1. "Feelings, Feelings (Take 10, July 1977)"   1:54
2. "Spread Your Wings (BBC Session, October 1977)"   5:25
3. "My Melancholy Blues (BBC Session, October 1977)"   3:12
4. "Sheer Heart Attack (Live in Paris, February 1979)"   3:34
5. "We Will Rock You (Fast) (Live in Tokyo, November 1982)"   2:54
2011 iTunes Bonus Videos
No. Title Length
1. "My Melancholy Blues (Live At The Summit, 1977)"   3:54
2. "Sheer Heart Attack (Live at Hammersmith, 1979)"   3:13
3. "We Will Rock You (Queen Rocks version, 1998)"   2:04

Song information

We Will Rock You

"We Will Rock You" (Sample ) was released as the B-side to "We Are the Champions", and became one of Queen's biggest songs worldwide as a staple of arena and stadium sports everywhere. It was a conscious decision by Brian May to make the song simple and anthemic ("stomp, stomp, clap, pause" in a 4/4 metre), so that their live audience could be more directly involved in the show. In the video for "We Will Rock You" and "Spread Your Wings", May used a copy of his guitar. He supposedly did not want to commit his Red Special to outside conditions, as the videos for these songs featured the band performing in the snow in Taylor's garden.

We Are the Champions

According to Freddie Mercury, "We Are the Champions" had been already written in 1975 but it was not recorded until 1977.[2] Mercury was thinking about football when he wrote it and was surprised that nobody composed anything to overtake it as a sports anthem. Released as a single, "We Are the Champions" reached #2 in the UK and #4 in the US. "We Are the Champions" was the first promotional video for which fan club members were invited to participate in the filming. The video was filmed at the New London Theatre 6 October 1977. Everyone got a single and Queen did a free concert after the shoot.

Sheer Heart Attack

"Sheer Heart Attack" was half-finished at the time of the 1974 album of the same name. Roger Taylor sang lead on the demo but for the definitive version the band decided Mercury should sing lead vocals, with Roger singing the chorus. Rhythm guitar and bass were played by Taylor, apart from some guitar "screams" by May during the instrumental section.[3]

During this time, the punk rock movement went into full effect, and this song was viewed as something of a jab at the musicians who felt bands like Queen were too self-indulgent. Of note is the lyric "I feel so inarticulate", and the fact that Taylor stated in interviews that he thought many of the 1970s punk bands had very little talent.

German heavy metal band Helloween covered the song. The cover can be heard as a B-side for their single "Just a Little Sign". Also, the heavy metal band Hallows Eve covered this song on their 1988 album Monument.

All Dead, All Dead

"All Dead, All Dead" was written and sung by May, and features Mercury on backing vocals. It is rumoured that the song is about the passing of Brian's cat. On an episode of "in the Studio with Redbeard" Brian May confirmed that claim.[4]

Spread Your Wings

"Spread Your Wings" (Sample ) was written by John Deacon. The piano is played by Mercury, although Deacon mimes it in the music video. The video was filmed at Roger Taylor's house at that time in his backyard, when the weather was freezing, and the band was performing in the snow. Mercury can be seen wearing star-shaped sunglasses in the video. Guitarist Brian May is seen playing a copy of his Red Special due to the cold weather conditions. Also, drummer Roger Taylor can be seen singing in the video despite the fact that there are no backing vocals in the song. It was the first Queen single without harmony vocals.

Fight from the Inside

"Fight from the Inside" was written and sung by Roger Taylor. In addition to the drums, Taylor also plays rhythm and bass guitar, the latter borrowed from Deacon himself.

The track is built around a jangly guitar riff and is amongst the first in the Queen catalogue to focus predominantly on the drums and bass, as opposed to the lead guitars. ([1]). It is also the only song in the band's discography recorded almost entirely by one member (Brian May contributed additional guitar).

Guitarist Slash has cited the guitar riff to this song as one of his favourite riffs of all time.[5]

Get Down, Make Love

"Get Down, Make Love", written by Mercury, is among the most sexual-oriented songs in the Queen catalogue.

The song was introduced into the band's live show immediately after its release, and remained a staple of their "medley" until the end of the Hot Space tour of 1982. It was never played live in its entirety with only the first and last verses/choruses being played with the guitar feature in the middle. On the Hot Space tour, the song was reduced to the first verse/chorus only as a way to lead into Brian May's guitar solo. Live, this song featured Roger Taylor's use of Latin-influenced percussion with timbales on the News of the World tour, and tightly tuned Remo Roto-Toms on the Jazz tour, Crazy tour, The Game and Hot Space tours.

The distinctive 'psychedelic' sound effects heard in the song were not produced on a synthesizer, but on May's Red Special and an Electroharmonix Frequency Analyzer pedal, which he would often do live. These sound effects, together with Mercury's moans and groans, were expanded upon during live renditions of the song, presenting the band an opportunity to show off the full potential of their stage lights and effects.

The song was later covered by Nine Inch Nails, appearing on their "Sin" single and later on the 2010 re-issue of Pretty Hate Machine.

Sleeping on the Sidewalk

"Sleeping On The Sidewalk", written and sung by May, was inspired by ZZ Top.[citation needed] It was recorded (minus the vocals) in one take. Lyrically, it deals with an aspiring trumpet player's career, delivered in a "rags-to-riches" fashion. May sings with an American accent and measures the aforementioned trumpet player's success by "bucks" (as opposed to pounds). On a close inspection, John Deacon can be heard playing the wrong notes in some bass parts, and Brian May can also be heard laughing at the end of the song. It is also one of the few Queen songs that does not feature Mercury.

The band's web site states they were unaware that they were being recorded[6] but Brian May has cast doubt on the authenticity of this, though confirming the first take of the backing track was used.[7]

Who Needs You

"Who Needs You" was written by Deacon, who, along with May, plays Spanish guitar. May also plays maracas and Mercury plays a cowbell.

It's Late

"It's Late", written by May, was the author's idea of treating a song as a three-act theatrical play. It makes use of the tapping technique before Eddie Van Halen of rock group Van Halen made the technique widely-known.

My Melancholy Blues

"My Melancholy Blues" was composed by Mercury. There are no backing vocals or guitars. Despite the title, the track is more related to jazz. Deacon played fretless bass on stage during this song but used a regular fretted bass on the record.

Cover

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1953

The album's cover was a painting by American sci-fi artist Frank Kelly Freas. Roger Taylor had an issue of Astounding Science Fiction (October 1953) whose cover-art depicted a giant intelligent robot holding the dead body of a man. The caption read: "Please... fix it, Daddy?" to illustrate the story "The Gulf Between" by Tom Godwin.[8] The painting inspired the band to contact Freas, who agreed to alter the painting for their album cover, by replacing the single dead man with the four "dead" band members (Taylor and Deacon falling to the ground). The inner sleeve has the robot stretching out his hand to snatch up the petrified fleeing audience in the shattered auditorium where the corpses were removed.[9] Freas said he was a classical music fan and did not know Queen, and only listened to the band after doing the cover "because I thought I might just hate them, and it would ruin my ideas", but eventually liked their music.[8]

The original painting (also called The Gulf Between) features on the cover of Freas's collection of art As He Sees It (Paper Tiger, 2000).

Singles

  • "We Are the Champions" released 7 October 1977 in the UK as the first single where it reached #2. In the US, it was released as a Double A-side with "We Will Rock You" where it reached #4.
  • "Spread Your Wings" followed as the second single from the album. Written by John Deacon and released in the UK on 10 February 1978, it reached #34.
  • "It's Late" is the last single from the album and was only released as a single in the United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand in 1978. Only reached #74 in the US, failing to chart everywhere else.

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Valley News (favourable)[10]
Washington Post (favourable)[11]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [12]
Q 3/5 stars[13]
Robert Christgau (C) [14]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars [15]
BBC (favourable) [16]
George Starostin 6/10 stars [17]

Critical response

News of the World initially received mixed reviews, mostly reflecting on the differences to the previously predominantly progressive rock sound produced by Queen, and this album's vast shift towards a more pop-rock oriented sound.[18] Following the immense success of singles "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", the critical reception shifted towards a more positive stance, as it became evident that the band was displaying another field of their musical ability.[1] Creem readers voted News of the World the 19th best album of 1977.[19]

2011 Re-issue

On 8 November 2010, record company Universal Music announced a remastered and expanded reissue of the album set for release in May 2011. This as part of a new record deal between Queen and Universal Music, which meant Queen's association with EMI would come to an end after almost 40 years. According to Universal Music, all Queen albums are to be remastered and reissued in 2011. This reissue includes a deluxe edition which contains five additional tracks. The second batch of albums (the band's middle five albums) has been released in June.

Chart performance

Chart (1977) Peak
position
Austrian Albums Chart[20] 9
Canadian Albums Chart[21] 2
Dutch Albums Chart[22] 1
French Albums Chart[citation needed] 1
German Albums Chart[23] 7
New Zealand Albums Chart[24] 15
Norwegian Albums Chart[25] 4
Swedish Albums Chart[26] 9
UK Albums Chart[27] 4
U.S. Billboard 200[28] 3

Personnel

References

  1. ^ a b "Queen: Less Flamboyance, More of the Beatles". Originally published by Washington Post. Currently mirrored by Queen Archives. 1978-12-28. http://queenarchives.com/index.php?title=Queen_-_12-28-1977_-_News_of_the_World_-_Washington_Post. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  2. ^ A Night at the Opera DVD commentary.
  3. ^ Purvis, Georg (2007). Queen: Complete Works. Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 43. ISBN 9781905287338. 
  4. ^ Purvis 2007, p. 108
  5. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil; Hince, Peter; Mack, Reinhold (2009). Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. London: Voyageur Press. ISBN 0760337195. 
  6. ^ "News of the World". Queen Online. http://www.queenonline.com/history/70/. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  7. ^ "Brian May's Soapbox (January 28th, 2008)". http://www.brianmay.com/brian/brianssb/brianssb.html. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  8. ^ a b As the Symphony gets ready to rock, we remember a local artist, The Virginian-Pilot
  9. ^ "News of the World: Album Details". Queen Online. http://www.queenonline.com/en/the-band/discography/news-world/#albumDetails. 
  10. ^ Valley News review (archived at queenarchives.com)
  11. ^ Washington Post review (archived at queenarchives.com)
  12. ^ Allmusic Review
  13. ^ Q, September 1993, p.119: "The album contained such anthemic fare as 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions'."
  14. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  15. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  16. ^ BBC Review
  17. ^ George Starostin Review
  18. ^ "News of the World". Originally published by The Valley News. Currently mirrored by Queen Archives. 1977-11-11. http://queenarchives.com/index.php?title=Queen_-_11-11-1977_-_News_of_the_World_-_The_Valley_News. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  19. ^ http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/creem_lists.htm
  20. ^ http://austriancharts.at/showitem.asp?interpret=Queen&titel=News+Of+The+World&cat=a
  21. ^ http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-110.01-e.php?PHPSESSID=53gtrvbfj0gk7r9b4sd40dtvu0&q1=Queen+News+World&q2=Top+Albums%2FCDs&interval=50
  22. ^ http://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Queen&titel=News+Of+The+World&cat=a
  23. ^ http://www.charts.de/album.asp?artist=Queen&title=News+Of+The+World&cat=a&country=de
  24. ^ http://charts.org.nz/showitem.asp?interpret=Queen&titel=News+Of+The+World&cat=a
  25. ^ http://norwegiancharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Queen&titel=News+Of+The+World&cat=a
  26. ^ http://swedishcharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Queen&titel=News+Of+The+World&cat=a
  27. ^ http://www.chartstats.com/release.php?release=38510
  28. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/queen-p5205/charts-awards/billboard-albums

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